ARCHIVED - Combat Engineers Conduct Demolitions As Part Of Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN 15

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Article / August 25, 2015 / Project number: c-ar-stalwart-guardian-demo

The sound of explosions can be heard even over the intense downpour in the Garrison Petawawa training area.  Combat Engineers from the 3rd Field Squadron of 31 Territorial Battalion Group, an exercise formation composed of regular and reserve force soldiers from 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (CER), 31 CER and 33 CER, conduct demolitions in the pounding rain.  Their goal is to create craters in a series of trails and make them impassable to the large vehicles being used by the opposition force, denying them those routes.

“We’re using what we call 15-pound beehives, they are shaped charges of gas that project a slug of copper into the target,” Major Frank Maloney of 33 CER and the Commander of 3rd Field Squadron, explains.  “In this case, that’s the soil, since we’re making a crater, but it could be a bunker wall for instance as well.  First we create a smaller hole which we use to place other explosives that make the craters.”

Combat Engineers provide important capabilities to a force in the field, helping to shape the battlefield in many ways, including creating and maintaining defenses such as trenches, creating obstacles to slow down enemy movement or even building bridges to drive vehicles over streams and rivers.

“This squadron really can do everything,” Major Maloney expounds.  “Demolitions, obstacle construction, breaching, bridging. We can assist in digging and survivability as well as route maintenance and mobility support.” 

The soldiers of 3rd Field Squadron work calmly and professionally while they handle the explosives, always ensuring that safety rules are closely followed.  Several months of planning and preparation have gone into setting the stage for an exercise of this magnitude but within the exercise context itself, they only need about 24 hours to plan, prepare and execute a demolition.  On operations when an Engineer unit is fully worked up, their capabilities can be put into action even faster.

For the many reservists in the unit, this exercise is a unique opportunity to practice their trade skills in a challenging and realistic setting and learn from their colleagues in the regular force.  The demolition was complicated by the vast quantities of rain falling, which compromised the first fuse, but this did not deter the engineers to analyze the problem and adapt to it. 

“It’s been good, really good working together,” says Lieutenant Alex Bicket of 2 CER.  “Especially with the knowledge gaps, the regular force members are providing mentorship and the reserves are not afraid to ask questions.  It’s good to get this kind of field experience.”

Written by Lieutenant (N) Dan Karpenchuk

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